Christian Living

The Fine Line: COVID-19, Vaccines, and Social Media

I stopped myself recently. It wasn’t anything inflammatory or even for/against any side of the debate. It was just math; information based on calculations from other information. Zero commentary. All I had to do was copy, paste, and post.

Are you wondering what it was? Tempting as it was, and is, I had to choose to leave it alone.

Discussing COVID-19 vaccinations is a dangerous game. Just saying the term out loud sets off defense mechanisms on all sides of the camp.

How involved should we be? Can’t we share our opinion? What about if it is “just the facts”? Sounds like another “Fine Line” we have to walk as Christians.

Red Alert!

It isn’t a secret to those who know me that I am huge on Star Wars, and on Star Trek. When my kids were little and my wife worked at suppertime, every weeknight we caught a rerun of Star Trek: Voyager. (A lesson from my Dad who had us watching Star Trek: The Next Generation every Saturday night when I was a kid.)

Talking about COVID-19 is like mentioning Klingons to Kirk, the Borg to Picard, the Dominion to Sisko, the Sphere Builders to Archer … you get the idea. Red Alert! Shields up. Weapons locked.

It is more polarizing than politics or religion, even though people are more willing to talk about it at length. Families, workplaces, churches; the divide is everywhere and it can be harsh.

No matter how well-meaning you think you are, someone you open up to is going to take it as a threat to their person, their way of life. How dare you? How could you believe that? How can you be so unrelenting about your perspective?

The Enduring Soap Box

We think having face to face conversations about COVID-19 can be difficult. But the internet and social media have made it far worse than we could have imagined even a decade ago.

Memes. Educational videos. Meeting recordings. You can see it and share it around the world without taking two breaths.

Do you remember the days of soap box preachers? Men and women on the side of the street, standing on a wooden box or platform, shouting at the top of their range or from a megaphone hanging around their neck. The end is near! Repent and be saved! Jesus loves you!

Of course, you could just keep walking and be out of range before too long. Not with social media. It is everywhere from our phones to our work computers, from texting to messenger apps. And we are dumb enough to get alerts every time someone sends us something.

What’s the Real Issue?

When it comes to people who ask me hot button questions, I have a rule that is sometimes hard to follow. First, I choose not to engage with the question they asked. Then, I ask them, “What is it you really want to know? What’s the real issue you are looking for my thoughts on?”

There’s nothing worse than someone who just wants to spew their opinion all over you so you can congratulate them on how smart they are. (Says the guy writing a blog on the internet.)

There are too many shouts at my head every day from people and media thinking I want to hear what they have to say. That’s why I turn off notifications. I skip or turn down commercials. And aside from work or project needs, I avoid a lot of input streams.

But if I can help you understand, learn, or grow in something I’m ready to engage. Let’s talk about what matters. A lot of people have turned away and decided not to pursue the conversation, but some meaningful talks have come out of this approach.

The fine line with talking about COVID-19 is simple: Am I helping or hurting? It isn’t rocket science and it really is one of the most common way of choosing how to handle most Fine Line issues.

COVID-19 has become a no-win conversation, and I’m going to try and avoid another Star Trek reference here. Even when we share with people on the same side of the debate, everyone’s blood pressure gets up. Voices rise and non-redemptive things are said about family, coworkers, governments, and more.

Was the post I wanted to make harmful? Nope. Remember, just the facts. Will it change anyone’s mind? Nope. Just me pining. It took a lot of effort (in my brain), but I’m glad I didn’t do.

The real issue is people need hope. They need assurance that they and their family will make it through. They need a light at the end of the tunnel.

Dear God, may I be better at sharing the light, hope, and peace of Jesus in a time where people need it more than I sometimes remember.